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Jewish Internet Defense Force

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The Jewish Internet Defense Force (JIDF) is a pro-Israel advocacy organization which shares news and information with members and supporters through email, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Myspace, Digg, and other popular areas of the web.[1] It also seeks out, exposes, and reports online material which is against the Terms of Service of internet companies. The JIDF focuses on materials that promote or praise what it regards as Islamic terrorism and racial hatred. They believe "in direct action to eradicate the promotion of hatred and violence online, and to create the publicity that will cause internet companies to take the needed action themselves" by enforcing their own Terms of Service.[2] The group focuses its attention on websites like Facebook,[3][4] Myspace,[5] YouTube, Google Earth, and Wikipedia.[6]

Organization

According to the JIDF, the organization "formed as a grassroots effort in 2000, mainly to mount mass e-mail campaigns, in response to the outbreak of the Second Intifada, which began in September of that year. It then began operating on various Web sites, including Facebook, to spread news about Israel and Jewish issues."[5] The JIDF also "created a Facebook group entitled "FACEBOOK: Why do you aid and abet terrorist organizations?", in response to groups on Facebook "praising the murderer of the eight yeshiva boys" in the Mercaz HaRav massacre.[3].

Facebook

According to a November 2008 article in Haaretz,[7] the JIDF "began making lists of Facebook groups posting material such as praise for attacks on Israeli civilians and content the JIDF viewed as promoting hatred and terrorism. JIDF then forwarded the lists to Facebook administrators. In some cases, the JIDF complaints prodded Facebook to take action. For the most part, however, Facebook's response was less clear-cut, according to David, a leading JIDF member who asked that his last name to be withheld, citing repeated death threats he and other group members have received by email since their actions became public. He says Facebook either did nothing or took months to police or remove groups the JIDF reported, allowing the material to circulate online in the meantime. When efforts to lobby Facebook to remove the groups failed, the JIDF escalated, moving to intercept Facebook groups and make them impossible to access. The turning point, David said, came with the founding of a range of Facebook groups praising the man who killed eight students in a shooting attack at Jerusalem's Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in March 2008.

Countering Militant Islamic groups on Facebook

In July 2009, the JIDF and Avi Dichter successfully reduced Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's social media presence as they successfully led a campaign for its removal. The JIDF sent "action alerts" to nearly 100,000 people via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail to report the fan page to site managers.[8] Prior to that, when Facebook did not respond to JIDF members' reports, the JIDF successfully infiltrated and dismantled a pro-Hizbullah Facebook page that was about 118,000 members strong.[9][10]

"The use of Facebook to blatantly praise acts of terrorism demanded an equally blatant response," David says. Many of these groups, including "R.I.P. ALA'A ABU DHAIM," founded in honor of the Mercaz Harav terrorist, have been targeted or removed by the JIDF. Many others remain, however, due mainly to the ease with which Facebook users can set up groups and the speed with which they attract new members."[7]

According to Haaretz, "a link on the JIDF site shows a screenshot from an Arabic-language group on Facebook that JIDF says was promoting Hezbollah propaganda and had attracted more than 118,000 members on Facebook before the JIDF began a wholesale deletion of the group's members, eventually deleting 109,873 members, leaving the group with less than 10,000." Haaretz also reported that the JIDF says it has removed more than 100 of what it calls anti-Semitic groups that promote genocide and anti-Israel propaganda on the Web, including those for Hamas fans and Holocaust deniers and a Facebook group called "We Will Kill All Israelis Abroad".[7]

The Canadian Jewish News reported in September 2008 that the JIDF took over another Facebook group, "Eliminate Israel from Being", and deleted more than 5,000 members before Facebook management "returned control of the site to its administrators." According to the JIDF, some users on Facebook "spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, demonize Zionists, praise attacks on Israeli or Jewish civilians, promote violence, hatred and Islamic jihadist propaganda, recruit people to Islamic terrorist organizations and supports white supremacy and Nazi groups."[11]

Countering Holocaust denial on Facebook

The Jewish Internet Defense Force has criticized Facebook for condoning and hosting Holocaust denial groups on its network, which are in violation of Facebook TOS, stating, "Holocaust denial is hate speech. It is an attempt by anti-Semites to make Jews appear to be liars and manipulators, those who accept the historical truth of the Holocaust to be dupes, absolve Nazis and their active and passive accomplices of guilt, and so rehabilitate anti-Semitic ideologies....Facebook staff themselves seem very torn about these issues and wish to consider a lot of hateful ideologies as 'legitimate political discourse'...However, if they are going to take down KKK (Ku Klux Klan) pages and pages which promote Islamic terrorism, then they should also take down hateful Holocaust denial pages and stop pushing the myth that they are for 'free speech'." The JIDF also stated that they would "do everything in our power" to convince Facebook to "do the right thing".[12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19]

Action Against "Israel is not a country! Delist it from Facebook as a country" Group on Facebook

During 2007, a controversy on Facebook was reported involving the removal of various options from "the drop-down list of places members can use to show where they live."[20] Several Facebook groups formed to support or oppose this removal including "Israel is not a country! Delist it from Facebook as a country". Matt Hicks of Facebook responded by saying: "As long as the groups meet our terms of use, they can stay up. But we encourage users to report anything that is racist or objectionable."[20] Content found in the Israel is not a country! Delist it from Facebook as a country group was described as antisemitic by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), The Jewish Week, and Andre Oboler, a social media researcher who was at the time working on Web 2.0 issues for NGO Monitor.[21][22][23][24][25] According to the JIDF, the group "actively promoted hatred, violence, murder and genocide."[5]

Despite what the JIDF described as "thousands of user complaints over the course of eighteen months", Facebook declined to shut the group down, saying it did not take action against what JIDF say it described as "legitimate political discourse".[6] The "Israel is not a country" group continued to grow, and in July 2008 JIDF "seize[d] control" of it.[5]

In September 2008, the JIDF told the Canadian Jewish News that it had taken over several more Facebook groups, including "an Arabic-language Facebook group which set a goal of finding one million people who hate Israel within 90 days."[11]

Elsewhere on the Web

According to Haaretz, "apart from its Facebook operations, which the JIDF calls only a small percentage of its activities, the group publishes online 'guides' detailing how users can identify sites that promote hateful content. JIDF members also edit content on Wikipedia entries and monitor YouTube and Google Earth. JIDF's measures include reporting Wikipedia editors it claims are anti-Israel, and taking action against entries seen as including one-sided or false accounts of the history of Israel and the Mideast conflict. On Google Earth, it has taken steps to remove photos showing Palestinian villages listed as having been destroyed during the foundation of the State of Israel. It has also waged a campaign against the listing of "Palestine" as a country."[7]

Twitter

The Jewish Internet Defense Force (JIDF) organized in August 2009 pro-Gilad Shalit campaign on the social networking site Twitter. During the Tweet4Shalit activism campaign Twitter users drove the Gilad Shalit name to the second highest trend on the day of his 23rd birthday. Tweets for Shalit ranged from the demand "Free Shalit" to requests for international supervision of the case.[26][27]

The JIDF was also recognized by the JTA as one of the "100 Most Influential Jewish Twitterers" and was ranked as the top-ranked Jewish Newswire.[28]

Criticism

In October 2008, the German newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) called the JIDF "self-appointed warriors against online-hatred"[29] yet notes they link to "a dubious site" which "draws a picture of Islam as a religion of hatred". FAZ also notes that "sometimes even David loses his countenance as he tilts at the windmills of propaganda", as when he called a Saudi Arabian user who was bragging about devoting a group to the murderer of the Yeshiva-students a "terrorist-celebrating, disgusting pig!".[30].

CNN wrote that the JIDF is "sometimes guilty of sweeping generalizations", and noted that they accused Barack Obama of having terrorist connections.[31]

Haaretz has reported an Internet campaign against the JIDF "accusing it of being a Mossad proxy". It has also noted that Facebook groups with the same names and similar content to deleted groups have appeared, albeit with substantially reduced membership from the originals.[7]

See also

References

  1. http://www.thejidf.org/2008/10/about-jidf.html About the JIDF]
  2. Template:Cite blog
  3. 3.0 3.1 Morrison, Sarah (2008-03-04). "Jewish Activist Battles For Israel on Facebook". Israel National News. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/125783. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  4. Morrison, Sarah (2008-07-27). "Jewish Activists Hack Anti-Semitic Facebook Group". Israel National News. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/Flash.aspx/150523. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Stephanie Rubenstein (2008-07-30). "Jewish Internet Defense Force 'seizes control' of anti-Israel Facebook group". Jerusalem: The Jerusalem Post. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1215331137728&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Moore, Matthew (2008-07-31). "Facebook: 'Anti-Semitic' group hijacked by Jewish force". London: The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2478773/Facebook-Anti-semitic-group-destroyed-by-Israeli-hackers.html. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Benjamin Hartman (2008-11-14). "An online battle for Israel's legitimacy". Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1037253.html. 
  8. Social media users successfully face down Nasrallah on Facebook, Jerusalem Post, July 29, 2009
  9. Social media users successfully face down Nasrallah on Facebook, Jerusalem Post, July 29, 2009
  10. The Story of a Pro-Hezbollah Facebook Group JIDF, December 22, 2008
  11. 11.0 11.1 Lungen, Paul (2008-09-25). "Anti-Israel Facebook groups infiltrated". Canadian Jewish News. http://www.cjnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15425&Itemid=86. Retrieved 2008-09-25. 
  12. The rise of Hate 2.0
  13. JIDF Letter to Facebook Regarding Illegal Content
  14. Holocaust Denial on Facebook is just the Tip of the Iceberg
  15. Facebook, Holocaust Denial, and Anti-Semitism 2.0
  16. Call for hate groups to be taken offline
  17. Facebook refuses to ban all Holocaust-denial groups, Australian Jewish News, May 19, 2009
  18. Is Facebook Changing its Tune on Holocaust Deniers?, CS Monitor, May 11, 2009
  19. 'Facebook doesn't bar hateful content against Jews', Jerusalem Post, August 27, 2009
  20. 20.0 20.1 Zerbisias, Antonia (2007-05-03). "Playing Politics on Facebook". Toronto: The Star. http://www.thestar.com/News/article/209925. 
  21. Help ADL fight the next generation of online extremism. ADL. http://support.adl.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ac_anti_semitism_2. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 
  22. Tamar Snyder (2008-02-20). "Anti-Semitism 2.0 Going Largely Unchallenged". The Jewish Week. http://www.thejewishweek.com/viewArticle/c37_a4553/News/National.html. 
  23. Andre Oboler (2008-04-01). Online Antisemitism 2.0. "Social Antisemitism" on the "Social Web". Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DRIT=3&DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=624&PID=0&IID=2235&TTL=Online_Antisemitism_2.0._. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  24. Andre Oboler (2008-02-05). "Facing up to the 'Facebook' dilemma". The Jerusalem Post. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1202211059878. 
  25. Tamar Snyder (2008-05-14). "Latest Front In Mideast Wars: Wikipedia: Pro-Israel advocates have been banned from contributing articles on the popular encyclopedia, but battle rages.". The Jewish Week. http://www.thejewishweek.com/viewArticle/c39_a9469/News/International.html. 
  26. 'Tweet4Shalit' campaign reaches No. 2 spot in Twitter, JPost, August 27, 2009
  27. Happy Birthday for Gilad Shalit?, Israel National News, August 5, 2009
  28. 100 Most Influential Jewish Twitterers, JTA, May 1, 2009
  29. 'die selbsternannten Kämpfer gegen Online-Hass'
  30. Christoph Gunkel, Antisemitismus im Web 2, Frankfurter Allgemeine FAZ.NET 14. Oktober 2008. Quotes are taken from the authorised English translation, Facebook and Google Earth: Anti-Semitism in Web 2.0 published at Zionism On The Web, seen 22 November 2008
  31. Lisa Respers France, Facebook urged to remove Holocaust-denial groups, CNN.com, May 8, 2009.


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